Green Papaya Salad – The Elephant Walk Cookbook
Adapted from The Elephant Walk Cookbook, by Longteine De Monteiro and Katherine Neustadt.
Note from Annie: I fell in love with Cambodian cuisine when I was traveling there. For me, I felt as if I had found my cuisine. It is very fresh, with unexpected flavors juxtaposed to be very vibrant, yet subtle enough to be bright tasting. On return home I began research for cookbooks that would teach me how to make authentic Cambodian food from scratch, without the use of canned or jarred sauces. I was lead to The Elephant Walk Cookbook through the Internet trails one follows on such a search, a book on Cambodian cuisine from the nationally known chef, Longteine De Monteiro, of the acclaimed The Elephant Walk Restaurant in Boston.
Green Papaya Salad
(Adjusted to be vegetarian; the recipe in the book asks for fish.)
2 pounds green papaya (1-2), peeled, cut in half and white seed area removed
2 1/2 tablespoons tamarind juice
4 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sliced scallions
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Grate the papaya, to yield about 6 cups (a food processor simplifies this process).
In a serving bowl, combine the tamarind juice, garlic, shallot, sugar and salt, stirring well. Add the papaya. Sprinkle with the scallions, mint, basil and lime juice, toss lightly and serve.
Cambodians are rarely vegetarian, and here is what author and chef Longteine says about this on her fascinating blog:
“Last September in celebrating with you our 2008 Best of CitySearch award for Vegetarian food at The Elephant Walk I explained that putting up our vegetarian menu was no simple matter. This is due to the fact that Cambodians, though mainly Buddhist, are rarely vegetarian.
I just visited the absorbing website/blog – Verdant Reports – of a gentleman who commented on that post earlier this summer. There you’ll find an excellent post on this very same subject, Vegan and Vegetarian Food in Cambodia, including a very well-produced audio-blog entry wherein the blogger interviews a Frenchman who opened a vegetarian restaurant in Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat. It’s worth 5-10 minutes of your time – especially if you are an avid traveler, a foodie, or – and especially – are vegetarian.”